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What to do in an evolution game?


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#1 klefebz   Members   -  Reputation: 244

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Posted 14 April 2013 - 08:25 PM

OK, i had been thinking in a game about the evolution of a creature since Spore disappointed me, (or maybe even before? i can't recall) and although i have been working on it as a hobby, i know i will most likely never finish it. Now with that explained i would like to just brainstorm about it.

 

Suppose this game has a working creature designer that lets you customize your animal, and then what to do with it?

 

I had some ideas:

Creature RPG: you go around the world fighting other creatures and doing "quests" for evolution points and "adaptations" to improve your little monster. Not very realistic, but would be simpler and a quite fun.

 

Survival: you play as a regular creature and have to survive long enough to have offspring, then you go to the editor, make limited changes to adapt (once per generation) and then you're born again as a new creature and do it again. If you die before having offspring, you go back to editor and try to make changes to be better adapted. This one looks more realistic, but could be boring and repetitive.

 

God mode: you have a God view over the world and your little creatures running around. There's an evolution cooldown that lets you evolve the creatures you control (all at the same time). If they all die you lose (extiction). This one could introduce modifing the intelligence and behavior (instincts) of your creatures for their AIs. This sounds good, but i would like to control my creature on my own.

 

Which one do you think is better? could you add more ideas for what to do with the animals you make?


I don't play MMOs because I would become addicted

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#2 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5059

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 12:09 AM

Would there be any way to convert the goal to evolving a set of several different animals rather than one avatar animal?   I think that evolving multiple animals has a lot more potential for fun gameplay.  (I may be biased: a goal like that would conveniently bring your design in line with some of my designs; I can think of more fun gameplay for those because I've spent lots of time thinking about them already.  Also I love evolution games but I'm not really a fan of god-games, and I thought Spore was nowhere near as fun as it could have been.)  A set of animals could be used for any of the following kinds of gameplay:

 

- In an RTS of the nonviolent/casual/single-player-campaign-only variety the player's animals could be NPC-bots which are an important part of the player's infrastructure; evolving them would be equivalent to climbing the tech tree (well, you still would need to gather resources and build buildings too) and carrying out your eXplore, eXpand, and eXploit activities as you build your main base to its full potential.  The overall theme could be anything from terraforming an initially-empty planet or restoring a ravaged earth to building up the personal estate of a noble/royal young adult who just became independent from their parents at the beginning of the game.

 

- In a tactical combat game animals could be the units.  The player would be given generic units with minimal abilities to start with, and would find it advantageous to evolve a range of more specialized units customized to a few different strategies that the player favored.  As above, the player would have a main base that they would upgrade in between missions, investing the rewards of their animals' efforts into infrastructure that allowed the player to climb the tech tree of what evolutions they could create.  And again, the theme could range from being the world's greatest monster trainer to building a personal empire/army as the magical of a mad scientist benevolent tyrant.

 

- In a CCG, evolving a creature would be equivalent to discovering a new monster card you could use in your deck.  Combat would presumably be magical duels against opponents with similar monster-breeding powers or just a traditionally inherited set of monsters.  (I don't know if there are CCG/TCG systems out there where the lore states a thematically appealing goal for all the dueling...?)

 

- In a breeding tycoon game (e.g. Plant Tycoon, Fish Tycoon) it's like a "collect 'em all" game, but instead of searching for wild monsters to subdue by combat you crossbreed them in your experimental habitat.  Individual bred animals are sold to NPC customers for cash to upgrade your habitat, tools, infrastructure, consumables, and possibly your store.  In this kind of game the main goal is professional prestige (best monster breeder in the world, owner of the biggest, most unique menagerie) but also wealth.

 

There are probably more possibilities that aren't occurring to me right now.  But seriously, you should read my article if you haven't seen it yet, or seen it in the form of entries in my developer journal.  It's mainly about creating a design document, but I made the assumption at the beginning that the player wanted to make an animal-themed game and I gave a bunch of examples of animal-related game concepts to illustrate all the possible gameplay genres and a few specific features.  http://www.gamedev.net/page/resources/_/creative/game-design/developing-your-game-concept-by-making-a-design-document-r3004


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#3 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1004

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:14 AM

I would make a simple sprite-based evolution game. You collect sprites wich are arms, legs, heads, main bodies and such. The player would sometimes need to collect sets of legs & arms to make some combinations work. Each "body part" would have its own capabilities (maxium rotational arc, reach, damage, special damage, health buffs etc.). Then you could go around in some boss/pvp battle environment and fight with this creature. Movement controlled by arrow keys and then you can map special arm/leg special attacks to mouse and keys. Every time you win you can pick one body-part to keep. For graphics - look at how plants vs zombies was made. They have a modular system for arms/heads/legs etc. The biggest challange would be to figure out how animations would work if you have 1,2,3 or 4 legged creatures. But perhaps you could base the whole thing on some templates. I would also make a marketplace where players could exchange body parts, but with a real cash fee attached to it so that I can get rich.

 

http://www.google.se/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nyaupplagan.se/images/MaktigeManssonSprattelgubbe_webb_large.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nyaupplagan.se/gammal/maktigemansson_sprattelgubbe.htm&h=1163&w=827&sz=463&tbnid=sKqeThLBknmvXM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=64&zoom=1&usg=__k_GaIJML1DqyU81pVEy-GxnjyQg=&docid=kfarlqydQRnW5M&sa=X&ei=SadrUce7OOSH4ASihIH4Cg&ved=0CDkQ9QEwAg&dur=957



#4 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5059

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 01:30 AM

I would make a simple sprite-based evolution game. You collect sprites which are arms, legs, heads, main bodies and such. The player would sometimes need to collect sets of legs & arms to make some combinations work. Each "body part" would have its own capabilities (maxium rotational arc, reach, damage, special damage, health buffs etc.). Then you could go around in some boss/pvp battle environment and fight with this creature. Movement controlled by arrow keys and then you can map special arm/leg special attacks to mouse and keys. Every time you win you can pick one body-part to keep. For graphics - look at how plants vs zombies was made. They have a modular system for arms/heads/legs etc. The biggest challange would be to figure out how animations would work if you have 1,2,3 or 4 legged creatures. But perhaps you could base the whole thing on some templates. I would also make a marketplace where players could exchange body parts, but with a real cash fee attached to it so that I can get rich.

 

http://www.google.se/imgres?imgurl=http://www.nyaupplagan.se/images/MaktigeManssonSprattelgubbe_webb_large.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.nyaupplagan.se/gammal/maktigemansson_sprattelgubbe.htm&h=1163&w=827&sz=463&tbnid=sKqeThLBknmvXM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=64&zoom=1&usg=__k_GaIJML1DqyU81pVEy-GxnjyQg=&docid=kfarlqydQRnW5M&sa=X&ei=SadrUce7OOSH4ASihIH4Cg&ved=0CDkQ9QEwAg&dur=957

So, basically EVO but with a marketplace system and a micropayment system?  EVO was a cool game, but from the art side of things I think it's actually easier to do the mix-n-match bodyparts thing in 3D, especially since it also makes custom colors/texturing easier.  Doesn't have to be as complicated as Spore's system to look and work nicely.

chap3b.jpgevobront.gif14-evo013.jpg


Edited by sunandshadow, 15 April 2013 - 01:51 AM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#5 mippy   Members   -  Reputation: 1004

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:01 AM

Yeah, something like

 

So, basically EVO but with a marketplace system and a micropayment system?  EVO was a cool game, but from the art side of things I think it's actually easier to do the mix-n-match bodyparts thing in 3D, especially since it also makes custom colors/texturing easier.  Doesn't have to be as complicated as Spore's system to look and work nicely.

chap3b.jpgevobront.gif14-evo013.jpg

 

Yep, something like that (but with improved graphics). I don't know about the 3D, it seems harder. But then I know close to nothing about 3d artwork.


Edited by mipmap, 15 April 2013 - 06:02 AM.


#6 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10631

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 09:16 AM

God mode: you have a God view over the world and your little creatures running around. There's an evolution cooldown that lets you evolve the creatures you control (all at the same time). If they all die you lose (extiction). This one could introduce modifing the intelligence and behavior (instincts) of your creatures for their AIs. This sounds good, but i would like to control my creature on my own.

 

I think one of the things that hasn't been really done before is a game where you can control biodiversity. Where you control several species and see them interact.

You could affect how spread out their gene pool is (how specialized sub-species they become) at the cost of seeing them prey on one another.

The idea would be to manually evolve your species in a way that makes for a good ecosystem:

- getting a low-grade "prey" species which somehow manages to reproduce quickly

- getting voracious upper-grade predators that prey on the weaker species

- balance each of these species by insuring a balance so that one doesn't fully overcome the other

- introduce various "goodies" and "buffs" (for example, a species that somehow really helps nature grow in one way or another)

 

etc

 

That, I'd actually play. For everything else, EVO already did it...



#7 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5059

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Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:23 PM

think one of the things that hasn't been really done before is a game where you can control biodiversity. Where you control several species and see them interact.

You could affect how spread out their gene pool is (how specialized sub-species they become) at the cost of seeing them prey on one another.

The idea would be to manually evolve your species in a way that makes for a good ecosystem:

- getting a low-grade "prey" species which somehow manages to reproduce quickly

- getting voracious upper-grade predators that prey on the weaker species

- balance each of these species by insuring a balance so that one doesn't fully overcome the other

- introduce various "goodies" and "buffs" (for example, a species that somehow really helps nature grow in one way or another)

 

etc

 

That, I'd actually play. For everything else, EVO already did it...

That could be pretty cool - like, if you wanted to cull a member of species A, you'd have to use one or more members of species B to do it, because the other members of species A wouldn't.  It would even work for using a prey animal to kill off a predator.  You'd have to be careful to avoid some of the problems of Viva Pinata, and some of the problems of SimLife.

 

E.V.O. didn't have multiplayer (either the market system mentioned or PvP), or combat where you have a party of multiple monsters, or a human avatar working with pet monsters; so there are at least a few things it didn't do.  Some of them Spore did, some of them Creatures tried to do, some of them Pokemon did, but there are still several unique combinations possible.


Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#8 Orymus3   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 10631

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 06:31 AM

problems of Viva Pinata, and some of the problems of SimLife.

Care to elaborate?



#9 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5059

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 09:18 AM

problems of Viva Pinata, and some of the problems of SimLife.

Care to elaborate?

My most recent developer journal entry was a comparison between Viva Pinata and Plant Tycoon, describing the features and problems of both.  Here's what I said about the problems of Plant Tycoon:

 

- VP has an XP/leveling/achievement system which is such a big feature of the game that it occasionally overwhelms the player's breeding and sim activities. The way in which the leveling system seems overwhelming is that leveling up is the only way to earn shovel improvements, land expansions, and the ability to encounter new types of pinatas.  Also, leveling up often causes a cinematic sequence to play, interrupting whatever the player was doing.

- A large percentage of VP's play is about creating and maintaining an environment to attract pinatas and enable them to become activated to breedablility. This can be quite laborious; to be activated, shown by a pink heart over their head, often requires each pinata to eat another pinata lower down the food chain. This activation must be done for both prospective parents, and it gets used up by breeding and must then be done again for each offspring. In some cases the pinatas will decide on their own to attack and possibly eat another pinata, which the player cannot effectively separate from each other (at least for flying ones), so part of the player's perpetual task of managing the habitat involves keeping an eye on these fights - breeding replacements and deciding whether to kill off or heal injured pinatas.  The fact that VP's pinatas can take aggressive actions without the player's consent, along with the much greater complexity of the environment in VP (plants tend to die due to lack of water), is responsible for the major difference in feeling between the two games: in PT the player is in control, in VP they can't maintain control, they can only hang on and recover when things go pear-shaped.

 

 

So basically, Viva Pinata is stressful and frustrating because it screws with your stuff in a permanent way without your permission and usually too quickly for you to prevent or repair.  The Sims series does this too, and it's the first mod the community makes every time a new Sims base game comes out - a mod to turn off aging and give the player a way to cancel or undo accidental deaths because the players don't like them.

 

SimLife, it's been over a decade since I played that so I don't remember in detail how it worked (or failed to work).  I do remember feeling that the game failed to understand how I intended a species to work in the environment/food web, and failed to give me feedback on why a species wasn't working.  The graphics were pretty much crap so it didn't give you any feeling for your animals as real live animals, much less individuals (I don't think SimLife had individual AI, but the Creatures series had individual AI and the creatures still failed to feel like individuals.)

 

So, to avoid all these problems:  Individual animals should look and act individual, should not age beyond adulthood, and should be unable to die without the player's permission; instead they should go comatose or something.  The player should be able to pick up and move individual animals, and to directly edit the factors that make that animal individual, though this should cost some kind of in-game currency or resource.  The environment, if the player can mess with it to any significant degree, should be mostly self-maintaining and not be too entropic and tending toward dysfunction.  If the environment needs the player's attention, it should "emote" what it needs with plenty of time for the player to respond.  Same for individual animals.  If you are supposed to be a god, there shouldn't be such a thing as the world being mysterious to you, too fast-paced for you to cope with, disobedient to you, or dysfunctional in a way you can't fix, seeing as how you presumably created it and could re-create it better.  Similarly if there is a tech-tree or requirements for various things to happen, they should not be hidden from you in a way you can't even spend effort to research.


Edited by sunandshadow, 17 April 2013 - 09:20 AM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#10 Plethora   Members   -  Reputation: 679

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:02 PM

I've always wanted a game that took a formula somewhat like what is found in the Monster Rancher series and take it in a different direction.  For a two sentence summary... Monster Rancher basically revolved around training one (or a small handful, never more than 5 at once as far as I remember) of Monsters and entering them in tournaments in which they would battle other monsters and get rewards and such for doing well.  The Monsters did in fact age and "retire" but it felt a lot less jarring than other games that have tried such things because it was part of the formula.  It was built around many generations and breeding successively better Monsters each time around.

 

Now, I enjoyed these games for awhile, but I eventually found the battling itself, which was meant to be the real "point" of the game to be the most tedious part of it.  I enjoyed having a game that was geared towards many generations of monsters... maybe, to the OP, you could experiment with a system somewhat like this.  You spend time growing and training some creature which will eventually reach a stage of maturity that allows breeding.  The offspring would then evolve in some way (either by deliberate player choice, or by some more random factors) which would be determined by the way in which the parent creatures were brought up and trained.

 

Just a thought...  :)


I'm working on a game!  It's called "Spellbook Tactics".  I'd love it if you checked it out, offered some feedback, etc.  I am very excited about my progress thus far and confident about future progress as well!

 

http://infinityelephant.wordpress.com


#11 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 5059

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Posted 17 April 2013 - 07:28 PM

I've always wanted a game that took a formula somewhat like what is found in the Monster Rancher series and take it in a different direction.  For a two sentence summary... Monster Rancher basically revolved around training one (or a small handful, never more than 5 at once as far as I remember) of Monsters and entering them in tournaments in which they would battle other monsters and get rewards and such for doing well.  The Monsters did in fact age and "retire" but it felt a lot less jarring than other games that have tried such things because it was part of the formula.  It was built around many generations and breeding successively better Monsters each time around.

 

Now, I enjoyed these games for awhile, but I eventually found the battling itself, which was meant to be the real "point" of the game to be the most tedious part of it.  I enjoyed having a game that was geared towards many generations of monsters... maybe, to the OP, you could experiment with a system somewhat like this.  You spend time growing and training some creature which will eventually reach a stage of maturity that allows breeding.  The offspring would then evolve in some way (either by deliberate player choice, or by some more random factors) which would be determined by the way in which the parent creatures were brought up and trained.

 

Just a thought...  smile.png

This is to some extent being done in current virtual pet sites.  BeastKeeper, for example, has a somewhat tedious combat system by which pets are leveled up, to a maximum of 50, at which point they acquire the title "hero".  The offspring of two hero pets gets an assortment of stat bonuses, and there are some quests only they are allowed to attempt.  The pets can't actually be fought with before they are mature, so that part is waiting rather than actively raising them, but the game's still in beta and they have an open call for feature suggestions: one of the many feature suggestions so far is to add a minigame only playable with immature pets.  I don't personally like this system, but you might want to try it out and see how it compares to your vision. smile.png


Edited by sunandshadow, 17 April 2013 - 07:29 PM.

Phone game idea available free to someone who will develop it (Alphadoku game - the only existing phone game of this type is both for windows phone only and awful. PM for details.)


I want to help design a "sandpark" MMO. Optional interactive story with quests and deeply characterized NPCs, plus sandbox elements like player-craftable housing and lots of other crafting. If you are starting a design of this type, please PM me. I also love pet-breeding games.


#12 markspend001   Members   -  Reputation: 100

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Posted 18 April 2013 - 11:12 AM

Hello Guys i think that Evolution is an interesting simulator game in which the gamer must develop, generate and reproduce beetles with the objective of developing the greatest beetle. They will have to management what insects they buy from a shop, nourish them, keep them interested with actions and even washing up after the beetles.Thanks!!






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